aetherea, has its origin, as does homeopathy, in alchemy. One of the most important concepts to emerge from the application of alchemical principles to the maintenance and creation of health is a concept called the Archaeus. Paracelsus appears to have coined the term in the 1500's. He used it to describe the first matter of Life, the oldest principle. He described the Archaeus as an essence that is distributed throughout the body. "The Spiritus Vitae (Spirit of Life) takes its origin from the Spiritus Mundi (Spirit of the Universe). Being an emanation of the latter, the Archaeus contains the elements of all cosmic influences and is therefore the cause by which the action of the cosmic forces act upon the body." Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Elsevier 2005) defines Archaeus as a "luminous, radiating healing energy that surrounds and permeates human beings."
Manly P. Hall, in his Secret Teachings of All Ages, interprets Paracelsus's Archaeus as the one vital substance upon which life depends. He says that its source is in the spiritual body of the Earth. It is important to remember at this point that Paracelsus was not referring to an abstract concept when he used the term spiritual. It was an aspect of the world that could be directly accessed by properly prepared medicinal substances, alchemical practice and altered perception. Hall continues describing Paracelsus's view - Every created thing has two bodies, one visible and substantial, the other invisible and transcendent. The latter is an aethereal counterpart of the former, constituting the vehicle of archaeus and may be called the vital body. The vital body is where disease begins, quite similar to the derangements of the Living Power (Vital Force) of Samuel Hahnemann.
Properly prepared, herbs can directly support and feed the archaeus. The proper method is known as Spagyrics, or Plant alchemy. Paracelsus likely coined the term. The spagyric method is similar to the normal preparation of a tincture, but adds a critical series of steps after the tincture is drawn off.
Spagyrics, like the broader alchemy, is based on the separation of the three essential components of all matter - Soul, Spirit and Body or Sulfur, Mercury and Salt - refining any one or all of these components and then recombining them.
In the preparation of a normal herbal tincture, the plant is placed in a menstruum, typically some combination of water and alcohol. The menstruum draws off medicinal aspects of the plant - from an alchemical perspective the Soul or essential oil and the Spirit or alcohol/water tincture. Once the herbal tincturing process is complete, the leftover plant material is discarded.
In the spagyric process, the plant body is not discarded. Alchemy regards this part of the plant as its matrix, the weaving of the essence of the plant that grounds the spirit and soul to the physical world. It literally fixes the plant to the physical world. To refine or elevate this part of the plant, fire and water are used to eliminate the dross, leaving the refined body. Once the tincturing process is complete, the marc or body is burned until it turns black or gray. Once it is completely burned, the ashes are submerged in water and the salts of the plant are drawn off. After a sufficient period of time, the salty ash water is filtered. The filtered water is then evaporated, leaving a lighter gray or whitish residue. This residue is collected and burned and this process is repeated until the salts are completely white. This process elevates the body of the plant, refining it to its essence. The refined body is then returned to the soul/spirit tincture, rebirthing the plant in the process. Variations on this technique are used to create elixirs and magistries, further refining the soul, spirit and/or body of the plant.
So what's the point of all this 'extra' work? A plant prepared in the spagyric fashion can directly feed the archaeus. Regular plant tinctures cannot. Feeding the archaeus strengthens the body and to some extent the soul and spirit of the individual taking it. The visible effects of the improvements to health and well-being are unmistakeable. Unfortunately, there are few commercial sources for these tinctures. One I can recommend is run by my friend and former employee Warren Kistenbroker called Evolved Alchemy. An informative site is run by Sajah Popham of Evolutionary Herbalism. A search for 'spagyric tinctures' can be of interest.
I began experimenting with creating my own spagyric tinctures more than 10 years ago and am really impressed with the results. It appears that spagyric practices and products are becoming more popular. This is a great thing for all concerned.